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Mexican Dips > Guacamole 5 June 2008

Posted by cath in easy, mildly spicy, Recipes.
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Yes its more Thai-style Mexican food with this rustic guacamole. It’s more of a chunky avocado salad than a traditional creamy guacamole, but I really like it.

When you’re making salsa, double the quantities of garlic, spring onion, chilli and coriander, juice another lime and do a couple of extra fresh tomatoes, then you can easily make both dips.

Ingredients

2-3 Avocados

2 fresh tomatoes – chopped finely

Chilli (red is best), garlic, spring onion, coriander – all chopped finely

Lime juice

Method

Scoop out the flesh of 2-3 ripe avocados and roughly chop into smallish cubes. Do this quickly, put it in a bowl and add a splash of lime juice to stop it browning.

Add the chopped chilli garlic, spring onions, tomatoes, coriander and a splash more lime juice (reserve some).

Mix well.

Press down to make the surface flat, then cover with a thin layer of lime juice. This keeps the guacamole from going brown.

Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until needed. Before serving mix up again and add a garnish of fresh coriander leaves and/or chilli slices.

Mexican Dips > Salsa 26 May 2008

Posted by cath in easy, herbs, ingredients, mildly spicy, Recipes, shopping notes, variations, very spicy.
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Simple, spicy, tasty – try this salsa to go with all kinds of foods – not just mexican! I use leftovers in cheese sandwiches, with cold meats and salads, and of course as a relish for home-made burgers…

Ingredients

Tomatoes – 8-10 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped*

2 Spring onions – finely chopped

Garlic – 2-3 cloves (to taste) crushed and chopped fine

Coriander leaf and stalk – small bunch, chop stalks finely, leaves roughly

Red/green chillies – 2-5 (to taste) chopped finely

1 tsp dried oregano

salt/pepper

tequila – 1 tbsp

lime juice – 1-2 tbsp (to taste).

Preparation

Combine everything in a bowl. Keeps in the fridge until needed.

If you’re pressed for time you can even chop everything roughly and blitz it in a hand blender or similar.  I prefer it more rustic, but you can also blend it until it’s smooth if you prefer.

* Out of season, you can use tinned tomatoes, although I recommend draining them well first or the salsa will be very runny (use the juice in the chilli con carne, or reserve for pasta sauce, stews etc. – it keeps well in the fridge).

For something a little different try a tin of green tomatoes – again drain before use and substitute for the red tomatoes. You can buy green tomatoes in tins from Lupe Pintos in Edinburgh.

Basic Recipes > Chilli with Beans 4 April 2008

Posted by cath in mildly spicy, Recipes, variations, vegetables, very spicy.
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My recipe for chilli is slightly inspired by Thai cuisine as I used to eat these very hot chilli con carnes out in Thailand. The recipe is quite spicy, with lots of fresh chillies, coriander and lime. Its nickname is “Tom Yum” Chilli because my Thai friend thought that it tasted like the hot and spicy Thai soup. Of course you should adjust the amount of chilli to your tastes.

This recipe below is actually a fantastic vegetarian chilli san carne, or you could try a variation with meat if you prefer.

Add guacamole and salsa, some tortilla wraps or chips to accompany the dish. You can use the basic stew recipe to make a variety of different Mexican inspired dishes…like this toasted chilli wrap.

 

Toasted Tortilla

Toasted Tortilla with Chilli, Sour cream, Salsa and Guacamole

Ingredients

1 tin Aduki beans, rinsed and drained then slightly crushed

1 tin Black-eyed beans, rinsed and drained then slightly crushed

1 tin Kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 small handful of each red split lentils and puy lentils – rinsed (uncooked)

1 large onion – chopped

1 leek – sliced finely

2-3 sticks celery – finely chopped or grated

1/2 golden beetroot – grated (If you want to use purple beetroot, use sparingly as they will bleed purple into everything!)

1 small carrot – grated

6-8 cloves garlic – crushed and finely chopped

1 large handful of coriander (leaf, stalk & roots, if available)

4 large red or green chillies – finely chopped (or to taste, remove the seeds for less heat)

1 large red chilli sliced for garnish

1 Bay leaf

1-2 heaped tsp cumin powder (to taste)

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 pinch smoked paprika

1-2 tsp chilli powder (cayenne pepper)

2 tbsp dried oregano (use fresh instead or as well if you can get it)

salt and pepper

1 large glass red wine (or a small glass of port)

2 tins tomatoes (or use fresh chopped tomatoes)

A selection of vegetables like mushrooms, peppers, spinach – diced/chopped as appropriate

Juice of 1 lime

Method

  1. Heat a large pan, add a few tablespoons of oil (like Oleifera), you may need more as you cook all the vegetables.
  2. Fry the onion on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Just start to soften the onion, not brown it (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the celery, leek and again fry off gently until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes), stirring gently.
  4. Then add the grated carrot and beetroot, fry, stirring gently – add a spoon more oil as required but don’t make it too greasy.
  5. Add the garlic, and taking the stalks and root from the coriander (save the leaf for later), chop finely and add to the pan. Stir again.
  6. [If you are using mince pork or beef, add it here and brown gently, stirring.]
  7. Now add the spices to the pan, the bay leaf and the dried oregano, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix well and let fry gently for a minute.
  8. Get the crushed aduki and black eye beans, and the lentils and stir them into the pan with the spiced ingredients. Mix everything well.
  9. Add the wine, stir and let the alcohol evaporate.
  10. Add the tomatoes, break up the tinned tomatoes with the spoon. Stir well to combine. Add a large glass of water, and keep some at the side to add as required to loosen the mixture.
  11. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  12. Add the chopped mushrooms and fresh oregano if you have it.
  13. Simmer the dish with the lid partially on for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding extra cold water if required (particularly if you are cooking lentils).
  14. With 10-15 minutes to go before you serve, add the peppers, check the seasoning and add more fresh chilli if required to taste.
  15. Add the drained kidney beans to heat through.
  16. With 5 minutes to go, stir in the spinach to wilt.
  17. Then remove from the heat, finish off with chopped coriander leaf and lime juice.

Serve with rice and sour cream.

Tips and Variations

Chilli is lovely with just mixed beans and vegetables as in the ingredients shown here, but you could also make it with pork or beef mince. Just substitute the meat for some or all of the beans and lentils. Add meat at the frying stage.

You can make chilli in advance as well. Remember that any beans in the dish will have continued absorbing liquid and flavour, which means you will need loosen the sauce with some extra cold water as you reheat it.

You can use any type of bean, or a mixture of different beans and lentils as I’ve used here. To save time, I usually use tins of pre-cooked beans, which will disintegrate more into the dish, but I also add some uncooked lentils to balance the different textures. Simmering the tinned beans gently in the sauce allows them to soak up the flavours. If you have time you could use dried beans and make everything from scratch – that way they will absorb even more flavour.

You can add any root vegetables you like – just grate and sweat them off in the base – they stew and melt into the sauce adding lots of flavour.

Chunks of mushrooms and peppers make a good addition to the dish, although you could use other vegetables – just put them in the sauce at the appropriate time to cook them through.

If you have any, you can also add some chopped fresh tomatoes at for a minute or two at the end of cooking for a fresher flavour (in season). Or try a tin of Mexican green tomatillos.

Cakes and Treats > The Best Chocolate Brownies 14 March 2008

Posted by cath in cakes and treats, comfort food, desserts, easy, Recipes, specials.
7 comments

This is the ultimate in easy, comfort food. A treat with a cup of tea, or a delicious dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or cream. My brownie recipe has been a long search. I’ve done much researching of many different ideas and recipes. A lot of trials, tests and tweaks later, its a very good thing for my belly (and that of my chief tasters) that the quest is over, and perfection has been reached!

 

Chocolate and Walnut Brownie

Chocolate Brownie

Now, here are the three things that I’ve discovered are the key to making the perfect brownie:

1. Undercooking!

Don’t be tempted to cook the brownie mix as you would a normal cake. Test it with a knife and the middle should still be quite wet. The trick is to also gently press the top of the cake to check that it has firmed up slightly, but still has some give. This should give the crisp top and gooey centre typical of the perfect brownie.

Be careful – it may take a few goes to get the timing perfect with an individual cooker – once you’ve got it right, remember to write it down so you know for the next time!

2. Icing Sugar (or confectioners sugar)

This definitely makes the best consistency of brownie. I have tried several combinations of sugars, from caster to muscovado. But it is fine icing sugar which definitely gives the best texture, its thanks to a recipe by Marcus Wareing (author of How to Cook the Perfect...) that I tried it.

Remember, a brownie mix is dense and fudgy, unlike cake mix that is typically beaten and aerated. Also, you don’t cook brownies for very long. So there isn’t much mixing or cooking time for the grains of other sugars to dissolve and blend properly. Go for the confectioners sugar! This recipe also adds some golden syrup helps the gooeyness along.

3. Nuts

Although they are not in all the recipes, I’m sorry, but for me a brownie is not a brownie without some walnuts (or you could use pecans). After trying a recipe by Pierre Hermé, I am also a convert to toasted walnuts. This is a very quick and simple first step and really makes a difference to the flavour, please try it! Also, as I tend to avoid scoffing all my brownies in one go, adding nuts improves the keeping time of cakes and biscuits, so I also add a few spoons of ground almonds with the flour as well to aid moistness.

OK, those are my top tips, now here is the recipe…

This makes enough to fill one round cake tin (18-20 cm wide). Which gives you at least 10-12 brownie slices, depending on greediness. I know brownies are traditionally square, but I use my favourite loose-bottom cake tin and treat it more like an un-iced cake. Also, this way every slice has some crispy outside and gooey centre – it’s the taste and texture that make these brownies the best!

(Of course, if you want square brownies, just use a square or rectangular tin. Remember to double the quantity I’ve used if you have a large rectangular tin (30×20 cm) – and you’ll also need to cook it for 5-8 minutes more.)

 

Ingredients

100g walnut quarters or pieces

150g good quality dark chocolate (I recommend Valrhona manjari, but any good quality, high cocoa content chocolate will do) – chopped/broken into similar sized pieces (aids even melting)

90g unsalted butter – diced (to help even melting)

2 tbsp golden syrup

150g icing sugar

75g plain white flour

15g ground almonds

20g cocoa powder (I recommend Divine)

2 large organic/free range eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, try Ndali or make sure you use an extract, not a synthetic vanilla flavour)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 130 degC (fan)
  2. Spread the walnuts on a flat baking sheet and place in the low oven for 10-15 minutes until toasted. Put the timer on, you must not burn them! (When they are ready – they will be lightly browned and mellowed in flavour, just take them out of the oven, pour onto a clean tea cloth, wrap up and bash them against the worktop to slightly crush into smaller pieces, then open up the cloth to let them cool).
  3. Whilst the walnuts are cooking, weigh out the rest of the ingredients. Place the chocolate pieces, diced butter and golden syrup together in a medium-large glass bowl. This will be the bowl you mix everything together in, so make sure it’s big enough.
  4. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. (Make sure the bowl does not touch the water, you just need a small amount in the bottom of the pan to provide some steam). Stir occasionally with a large metal spoon to melt and combine. (See my post on chocolate crispy cakes for chocolate melting tips).
  5. Whilst the chocolate mixture is melting, sieve together the icing sugar, flour, ground almonds and cocoa powder into another bowl.
  6. When the chocolate mixture is nearly smooth and melted, remove from the heat and stir until completely smooth. Then leave to cool whilst you prepare the cake tin.
  7. Grease the cake tine and then line the base and sides with baking parchment (if you are using a loose-bottomed tin then just line the bottom). Then grease the lined base and sides carefully with some extra butter.
  8. The walnuts should be done by now, once they are out of the oven, turn it up to 180 degC (fan).
  9. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat together with the vanilla extract (if using). Just do this by hand as well, you don’t need to worry about making the mixture airy and light – you want a stodgy mix!
  10. When the chocolate mixture has cooled to room temperature (takes at least 5-10 minutes, test it if you are unsure, it can’t be hot as it will scramble the eggs – but don’t wait too long or it will be too stiff to combine with other ingredients) add the beaten eggs and stir vigorously to combine. The mixture will begin to thicken up quite quickly.
  11. Then add half of the dry ingredients and mix together vigorously until smooth, continue adding the other half, then the walnuts, beating each time until smooth. The final mixture will be thick, dark and gooey.
  12. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. If you like, you can smooth the top a little using a knife – place a metal knife in a cup of hot water until warm, remove and wipe off the water, and use to smooth the top of the mixture.
  13. Once the oven is heated up, place the brownies in for 13-15 minutes.
  14. To check they are done, the top will be dry looking and slightly cracked – carefully and gently press on the top, which should be beginning to firm but not solid. A knife inserted into the centre should come out moist. Be careful not to overcook the mixture.
  15. Leave them to cool in the tin – don’t be tempted to remove them yet! Once cool, carefully remove them from the tin – peeling off the parchment paper. Sieve the top with a little icing sugar.

Serve with cream or ice cream for a delicious dessert, or just with a cup of tea or coffee for a decadent snack.

Yum!

Brownie

The Finished Brownie Cake

 

Fairtrade Fortnight 2008 25 February 2008

Posted by cath in general info, Info and Cooks Notes, ingredients, shopping notes.
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Go on! Try something fairtrade this fortnight…or any fortnight!

This is my review of fairtrade goodies. The list is evolving as I try and test fairtrade stuff available from local shops in my area.

1. Fairtrade Vanilla Ice Cream

Cream o Galloway – this one is locally produced using fairtrade sugar and vanilla, also uses organic egg yolks, so no concerns about the quality of life of those laying hens. I loved it, and can’t wait to try the chocolate flavour…

I’ve also tried Ben&Jerrys – this one also uses fairtrade sugar and vanilla, they also use free range eggs in their products which is reassuring. Again, a good quality ice-cream and a little easier to find in the shops from this popular brand name.

2. A bit early for Easter…but… Fairtrade Mini Eggs

Dubble Speckled Eggs – finally an ethical mini egg. The good news is that it tastes great, and with fairtrade vanilla, sugar and chocolate it is good too! I’ve seen them in the One World Shop, also in Oxfam shops around the country.

The fairtrade chocolate from Dubble and Divine tastes excellent, so make sure you go fairtrade for all your Easter eggs. There are also other varieties and brands to consider. See the fairtrade website for more details about fairtrade chocolate

3. Fairtrade Cola

Yes, there is an alternative to Pepsi and Coca Cola…and it is Ubuntu cola (not to be mistaken for the Linux distribution of the same name!*).

You can buy it in the One World Shop up here in Edinburgh, it is a very tasty cola made with fairtrade sugar (they state they are also going to try to source fairtrade caffeine from the fairtrade coffee industry which is interesting too). Check out the Ubuntu-Trading Website for more info and stockists in your area.

4. Fairtrade Vanilla

I’ve tried a couple of brands of fairtrade vanilla pods (Barts Spices and Ndali) and have recently tried the Ndali Vanilla Extract. This has been quite useful in brownie making – and is a lot less hassle than the pods. The extract is very different to the synthetic vanilla flavours I remember from years ago, and definitely worth a try if your a fan of vanilla.

5. Fairtrade Coffee – the old favourite

It has been a long time that Fairtrade coffee has been in the shops and in our coffee houses. Make sure you get a fairtrade cup – ask next time you order a coffee and make sure your cupboard at home/work is also stocked up with fairtrade:

Cafe-direct now does a massive range of coffee and more products besides.

Scotmid (or the Co-op) also has a full range of coffee and chocolate, also much much more, check out their website for more details.

Espresso Ground Coffee…

We’ve always found it hard to get good espresso coffee to make at home, but can recommend Clipper Espresso (with the picture of the Three Graces on the front). Great for use in your stove-top coffee pot.

6. Fairtrade Cooked & Canned Beans!

No, I’m not talking about baked beans! (but I can recommend Scotmid Organic Baked Beans, although presently they are not fairtrade).

These are Aduki Beans – a small, red bean – nutty and delicious. Particularly good as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes like cottage pie etc.

I’ve just made a vegetable and bean chilli con carne with Suma Organic, Fairtrade Aduki Beans, Black Eye & Kidney beans too, with lots of veg. The tinned beans are pre-cooked so they are very quick and easy to use. They don’t require lots of soaking/blanching etc. Best of all, they are now fairly traded.

Look out for them in your local shops. I’ll post my veggie chilli recipe soon…

7. Fairtrade Bananas – Let them loose!

I would love to eat more fairtrade bananas, but I have a problem buying the plastic packs of 7 or so bananas ubiquitously available in the supermarkets today. I don’t want 7 bananas, sometimes I just want one for lunch or as a healthy afternoon snack. Well, during fairtrade fortnight, I went in search of the humble loose fairtrade banana, with very little luck I’m afraid. I asked at several local shops who had the fairtrade poster up, but their bananas were not fairtrade! But I did find small packets of bananas in my local Scotmid – I got a pack of three for 54p – good value, but why the plastic packaging I wonder?

Quite unexpectedly I finally found the illusive loose fairtrade banana in my local Margiotta (a local chain of shops in Edinburgh) in Marchmont. The price was higher than Scotmid, but I was able to buy two individual (not plastic wrapped) fairtrade (with the mark on a sticker) bananas for 55p. Come on shops – lets see more of this please!

8. Other Fairtrade Fruits

Fairtrade oranges and citrus fruits have been in my local Scotmid, and some other supermarkets for a while now, but this fortnight I’ve been looking for more options. I’ve tried fairtrade grapes from Marks & Spencers this week, they were very nice, and good value due to being half-price (I expect that was just for fairtrade fortnight though!).

Other good ones to look out for are pineapple, mango and avocado – available from a lot of supermarkets, and some local organic stores.

8. Fairtrade Sugar

Nowadays you can buy a lot of different sugars, granulated, white, soft brown etc. Sadly I’ve not yet found any icing sugar for my brownie mix, so I’ll keep looking. Make sure your sugar bowl is full of fairtrade!

9. Fairtrade Cotton Anyone?

OK so it’s not food, but check out the increasing availability of fairtrade cotton for your clothes. I love People Tree and the One World Shop…but there is a lot more to choose from nowadays.

 

There is a lot more information on Fairtrade including product listings and brands. Check out the Fairtrade Website for more details.

 

 

 

 

*if you are actually interested in Ubuntu Linux (an open-source, free operating system), the website is: http://www.ubuntu.com/

Moroccan Tagine with Lemon, Olives and Potatoes 31 January 2008

Posted by cath in Fish, freeze-friendly, ingredients, mildly spicy, Recipes.
5 comments

This is a recipe I made a few times, and each time I forget to photograph it. Oops. I’ve now made it with some monkfish, and with chicken (thighs/legs – skin, bones and all), lamb or mutton works a treat, and is definitely my favourite. I also tried mutton and aubergines and it worked really well.

I have never been to Morocco, but apparently this tastes authentic (and of course really delicious!).

I tend to add plenty of vegetable to my meals, and this tagine can also have other ingredients added to it. Try adding spinach (just stir in plenty at the last minute and heat until wilted) or baby carrots (added for the last 8-10 minutes of cooking). Try other seasonal vegetables as well.

For the charmoula I borrowed a recipe from Rick Stein’s Seafood and made some amendments, particularly to the amount of chilli – but this is still a mild dish. For those of you who like it hot, I’ve also added a cheating harrissa style sauce which is easy and quick to make. Use it to add some extra chilli flavour to your dish and/or plate – it also makes a great dip for bread or pita.

Serve the tagine with some couscous, one idea for that is at the bottom of the page.

Here’s my latest picture – this was the left overs, nicely stored away for later in the week – and it tasted great a few days later. Mutton and Aubergine Tagine:

Mutton and Aubergine Tagine
Tagine, topped with Harrissa and Toasted Almonds

Couscous and Pita Bread

Couscous and Homemade Pita Bread

Ingredients

Stew base:

1-2 large onions (red or white), sliced finely
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 inch piece of ginger, finely shredded or grated
1-2 sticks celery, finely sliced (optional)
1 stick cinnamon
6-10 good quality tomatoes, roughly chopped (or use 1 tin of plum tomatoes)
1 handful of dried fruit (prunes, apricots or whatever you prefer), finely chopped
1 pint of fresh stock
1 glass dry white wine
Lemon rind from 1 lemon, finely shredded
6-8 queen green olives (stoned), roughly chopped (plus a few extra to serve with the dish)
8 new potatoes, or small waxy potatoes – washed but left whole (if possible)
1/2 can chickpeas (optional)
bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
handful toasted flaked almonds (make extra for the couscous too)
1 lemon, cut into wedges to serve

Charmoula:

3-4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 red finger chilli, roughly chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (remove rind and reserve)
1½ tsp paprika
pinch saffron strands (optional, but will give a good colour)
pinch salt

Harrissa:

(should make you enough to have some left over as a dip!)

4 red finger chillies, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1-2 lemons (reserve the rind for couscous)
4 tbps extra virgin olive oil

Meat or Fish

This makes a large stew, good for 6-8 people. You will need about 600g fish, or 1-2 chicken thigh (or leg) per person or about 1kg of lamb or mutton (shoulder cut into large chunks) – up to you!

Method

  1. Sweat the onion, celery, garlic and ginger in some olive oil, long and slow until very soft but not browned.
  2. While the base is cooking slowly, make the pastes. Blend all the ingredients for the harrissa in a mini-processor or similar. It should be a thin paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Set aside.
  3. Then blend together all the ingredients for the charmoula – use the same processor, no need to wash out. Again this will be a thin paste. Taste, adjust seasoning and set aside.
  4. Add all the charmoula paste to the pan with the cinnamon stick and a few spoonfuls of harrissa (to taste, adding heat, garlic and lemon). Stir well and let fry for a minute.
  5. Add the raw meat (chicken or lamb) now and stir round in the charmoula to cover. (For fish, just add the fish later to gently cook through before serving).
  6. Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, lemon rind, dried fruit and half of the chopped olives bring to the boil and simmer gently with the lid on.
  7. Add the potatoes and simmer for the final 40 minutes.
  8. You will need to simmer the dish for at least 40 minutes to get the flavours to blend and cook the potatoes. Then add the chickpeas and heat through.

You will need to adjust the total cooking time depending on your choice of meat or fish: chicken thighs or legs on the bone (approx. 40mins-1 hour); stewing lamb or mutton (3 hours or more); large chunks of monkfish (10-15 minutes at the end after the potatoes are cooked).

After the meat or fish is cooked, remove from the heat.

Sprinkle over the other half of the olives, coriander leaf. Serve with a wedge of lemon, the harrissa, olives, pita or other fresh bread and some couscous.

Couscous:

A very simple, tasty and gorgeous looking couscous dish:

350 ml chicken stock
300g couscous
rind from 1 lemon, finely chopped or grated
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
20-30g toasted flaked almonds (toast in a dry frying pan and be careful not to burn them)
Chopped dried fruit, e.g. apricots, prunes, sultanas etc.
handful chopped mint
handful chopped coriander
rest of the can of chickpeas (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the stock until boiling then pour in the couscous and the lemon rind. Stir and remove from heat, covering with a lid or foil. Leave for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid, fluff up the grains with a fork.
  3. Return the couscous to the heat, drizzle over olive oil and chickpeas. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Fold in almonds, fruit, herbs and season with some harrissa to taste.

You can reheat the prepared couscous again in the microwave or in the oven, but it’s best to add some fresh herbs at the end to liven up the flavours again.

Pita Bread:

A very simple, quick and tasty pita bread:

1/2 tsp dried yeast
150g white (strong bread) flour
100g wholemeal (strong bread) flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
150 ml water

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients together. I use the pizza dough setting on the breadmaker (this is a 45 minute program consisting a 10-15 min knead, 10-15 min rise, then another 10 min knead and 10 min rise – so probably easy enough by hand for those who want to try that).
  2. Divide the dough up into 4-6 balls, roll them out into oval shapes of about 5 mm thickness. I’ve been told the secret is to make sure you roll them out on both sides – this ensures they puff up to create the classic pocket.
  3. Prove for 8-10 minutes (I have also left them longer and that’s been fine, or put the dough balls in the fridge overnight to use the next day).
  4. Bake in a very hot oven (220 degC or higher if you can) for about 6-8 minutes and serve immediately.

You can reheat them, but they can easily crisp up a bit too much, which is why I prefer to reserve some dough in the fridge to freshly bake with any leftovers.

Hope you enjoy my Moroccan feast! If you have a breadmaker, check out the pita bread, or flatbread recipes. They are very quick an easy and go really well with this dish.

P.S. comments as usual are welcome – particularly any mistakes, or anything you don’t understand.

Preparing the Charmoula

Making the Charmoula

Bowl of Harrissa

Bowl of freshly made Harrissa

(chilli, garlic, lemon and olive oil)

A quick snap of my chicken tagine – unfortunately not a particularly well presented dish that time – and I’d already started tucking in…

Quick Snap of the Tagine - before it was all gone!

Chicken, Vegetable and Olive Tagine, with Couscous and Pita Bread

**NEW**

Print the text of the ingredients and recipe: Moroccan Tagine (Opens a .doc file).

Sprouting Goodness 26 January 2008

Posted by cath in easy, Info and Cooks Notes.
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(no not brussel sprouts!)

I got a great present this Christmas, a germinating jar from bioSnacky®. I’ve been trying out the various mixes of sprouts they sell in Real Foods, like Alfalfa, Mung Beans, Lentils, Radish. So far, it’s worked out well!

Alfalfa grows fast and fills the jar completely, the others are growing quite slowly by the relatively cold Kitchen windowsill, but are still tasty and very easy to look after.

Get yourself a jar, or similar, and give it a try (all the details are either on the seed packets, or come with the jar). The method goes something like this: Using a tablespoon or so of seeds, rinse them well, then leave to soak for the appropriate time. Rinse and drain, then do this 2 or 3 times daily during the 3-6 days germinating time. It depends on the sprout (or mix) that you choose.

Take a look at the jar of Alfalfa I harvested on Thursday:

Alfalfa Sprouts

My hope is to be able to grow my own beansprouts for stir frying etc. With a bit more experimenting, practice and hopefully as the weather warms up, I’ll get there…so watch this space!

Mushrooms 11 September 2007

Posted by cath in ingredients, shopping notes.
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No recipe today! Instead I offer an inspiration of mushrooms. Taken at Bakewell Farmers Market, Derbyshire. A fantastic stall and very popular…as it should be!

Mushroom Stall at Bakewell Market

Mushrooms Galore.

Seasonal Specials > Broad Beans 18 July 2007

Posted by cath in easy, specials, summer, variations, vegetables.
1 comment so far

Broad beans and garlic

Broad beans are in season at the moment and taste fantastic fresh from the pod. The pods are larger than peas, but basically the same idea – unless they are very young (baby broad beans), you don’t eat the pod (but it does make a lovely stock for vegetarian food).

Broad beans go fantastically well with pancetta (plus this might help you get broad beans on the menu for those more fussy about their veg!).

Broad beans steam really well, taking about 5-6 minutes, but less if they are very small and young. Just remove them from the pods, rinse and steam. Serve with a knob of butter.

Here are two methods of cooking broad beans:

If you’ve got a few large handfuls of broad bean pods you can make a very quick and easy, vegetarian broad bean pod stock. Just cover the beans in water in a large pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the pods and reduce the remaining stock. You can reduce it right down to a syrupy liquid and freeze in cubes (or small batches), or just reduce to taste. Stock with a good flavour and consistency will give you a base for making soup or risotto.

Veg stock - broad bean and pea pod

Broad bean pod stock (front) and 

Pea pod stock (back) – reduced and frozen

 

You can mix pea and broad bean pods together, or do pea-pod stock in the same way. Don’t simmer for longer than 20 minutes – vegetables like these pods release their flavours quickly and can get bitter if overcooked.

Vegetables > Broad Beans cooked in Tomato Sauce 18 July 2007

Posted by cath in easy, summer, vegetables.
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Using some freshly podded broad beans, and some homemade tomato sauce you can make a vegetarian version of my broad beans with pancetta, tomato and pasta. It’s just as nice, and healthier without the pancetta and pancetta oil.

You just need to cook the broad beans gently in the tomato sauce for the last 6-8 minutes of cooking, so once the pasta cooking you can put them in. Thats it! Check the beans are done, then add to the tomato sauce and serve. Couldn’t be easier!

Mix some fresh basil or other herbs into the sauce to vary it. Sprinkle with cheese for a richer dish.

The finished dish:

Vegetarian Broad Bean & Tomato Pasta

Vegetarian Broad Bean and Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti